The Arizona Supreme Court gave the green light to print Proposition 105 and send it out to voters. The Special Elections initiative will leave it up to the voters on August 27, to make the decision as to whether they want to keep the South Phoenix Neighborhoods with its Panaderias, Restaurants, Tire Shops, Food City, Rancho Market and low income housing, or if they want to modernize city-wide at the expense of losing existing businesses and community identity.
Building a Better Phoenix, the organization that was formed to take the initiative to the ballot, collected more than 40,000 signatures and took away the final decision making power from the Phoenix City Council. “It will not be up to the politicians. It will be up to the voters,” stated Larry Cohen, a business owner that will likely lose his business due to the light rail expansion into South Central Avenue.
Now the Phoenix City Council, the developers, and the contractors that stand to lose a couple of billion dollars are shaking in their boots. It was a done deal. The little guy could not possibly throw a wrench to derail the carefully crafted plans. The fast tracking of a project due until 2032 was done at a time that Light Rail is losing ridership and only 1 percent of the population uses it. Residents in South Phoenix wonder, “Why the rush?”
Now the barrage of attacks against the small group of small businesses that decided to stand up to big government will commence. The City Council, including newly elected members that formerly opposed the light rail, will surely rally for developers and big money.
An Op Ed piece in the Arizona Republic online fired the first salvo. Quoting a statement from a mentally troubled individual, “God Killed” former Congressman Ed Pastor, painting with a wide brush everyone opposing light rail, as supportive of the deplorable act. It is the same tactic utilized against migrants when one of them commits a crime: the entire group is attacked as criminals, even though the majority are hardworking family members trying to make a living for their families.
The people opposing the light rail in South Phoenix are not doing it for political reasons, they are doing it because they are fighting for their survival and because gentrification of South Phoenix might benefit the contractors and the developers, but it will spell the end of a vibrant community that has developed along South Central Ave.
“The City of Phoenix thought we were kidding when we chanted “Four lanes or no train.”
“We might be taken out by big government but we will not go down without a fight,” said Susan Gudino, a resident of South Phoenix. Now the voters will decide, Yes, on Proposition 105, will save the community in South Phoenix and will stop light rail expansion.
The City of Phoenix plans to waste $2 billion of tax payer money on five miles for a train to nowhere. It will also use eminent domain on any property owner that refuses to go along with the destruction of their business. Renters will be even worse off. The most they will get is minimal relocation money to move. The old saying, “Nobody can fight city hall,” does not apply to members of “Building a Better Phoenix.” We have decided to fight City Hall on August 27. Vote Yes on Proposition 105 and deliver a knockout blow to government waste and insensitivity to the little guy.
Salvador Reza is a Phoenix resident and activist.